Pollock also became very interested in nature. Jackson Pollock only studied under Thomas Hart Benton for about two year but they remained friends until Jackson’s early death.
The mid 1930’s were a bit of a hard time for Pollock. He had a hard time finding a job because America was in the middle of the Great Depression. In 1935 Jackson Pollock joined the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration. He, along with five thousand other artists were hired at one time or another by the project to paint murals in public buildings to make art part of everyday American life. The influence for this was the Mexicans mural program, which “hired artists for workmen’s wages” (Cernuschi, 29). The primary Mexican muralists were Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, and David Alfara Siqueiros.
Pollock had been interested in Orozco’s work since the 1930’s and in 1936 he took a course called A Laboratory of Modern Techniques in Art with Siqueiros. Jackson explored powerful expressionism through experimentation of different techniques in this class. They painted in large scale, used poured, drip, and splatter techniques and Siqueiros taught them about Futurism and how to paint using emotional impulses. Futurists believed that you must not only move the spectator physically but you must also move them emotionally. The style of the Mexican Muralists Orozco and Siqueiros influenced Jackson’s technique in later paintings such as Bald Woman with Skeleton, which he painted in 1938.
In 1937 Jackson met artist-critic John Graham after writing him a letter requesting they meet. Graham had become a great influence to Pollock after he wrote an article titled Primitive Art and Picasso. Graham stated in the article that, “an evocative art is the means and the result of getting in touch with the powers of out unconscious” (Fineberg, 88). Graham believed that “the unconscious mind provided essential knowledge and creative powers for the artist” (Fineberg, 88). Pollock had become very interested in inner content of paintings rather then figurative content, which was also known as Surrealism.
Picasso and Miro were the most popular Surrealists of this time and Pollock’s work began to move away from the ideas of Benton and the Muralists and began to reflect their style. He was impressed that they based their work on the unconscious mind. In 1941 John Graham invited Jackson Pollock to exhibit his work in a show he was organizing. The surrealists were a big influence on Pollock. They encouraged him to “legitimize the unconscious as a subject” (Fineberg 89) and work impulsively and spontaneously on the canvas.
He believed the unconscious